Lebanese student speaks out against "wasta", shakes social media
Dina Hanna, a student at Lebanese American University (Facebook)
Dina Hanna, a graduating senior at the Lebanese American University (LAU), made a simple request to her University: to provide her grandmother with a ticket to attend the graduation ceremony. A day later, she received this email instead of information about her grandmother's ticket:
Dina was taken aback by the response, and took to Facebook to speak out against the preferential treatment of relatives of "VIP" Lebanese:
I have been with you for five years now and will be graduating next week. Funny thing is, you always were so keen on teaching us values and principles. Everyday I would walk into your campus, smile, and say hello to the janitor the same way I do to my teachers. However, this email shows otherwise.
We have been trying to break stereotypes for so long. Appearance isn't everything. You accept students in spite of their race, appearance and social status. I sent you an email yesterday asking for an extra ticket for my grandmother to attend my graduation and I got no reply back. I guess it matters more to send an email that same week asking students who have 'important' parents to inform you so that you can seat them upfront to 'retain your image.'
Thank you for all the values you taught us.
Cheers to you."
Though only posted on her personal Facebook page, it was quickly shared and spread across social media websites as others began to speak out about the nepotism that is rampant in Lebanese society. In a matter of hours, the story reached a number of Arabic-language news outlets as Dina began to receive more and more messages of support on her Facebook page.
"I think most parents are considered VIP." Wrote one of her friends in a comment on her original post. "My dad lived 30 years abroad only to provide the best for my education. Current member of the parliament meen [who]?"
Another friend commented: "I understand if the President of our dearest Republic of Lebanon having a VIP seat, but what makes a minister better than a doctor? A general in the army better than a businessman? Or a judge better than a simple employee? And guess what? We don't event have a President! There should not be anything called VIP at LAU! All the students are and are treated equally, why should their parents be treated differently? Shame on LAU!"
In a more recent Facebook post, Dina added that her post came from "emotional frustration due to the automatic priorities and privileges given to others in this country without considering other people who have worked double the amount ... to get their children to be able to graduate on this day."
As for her grandmother? Dina writes: "I have had people inbox me saluting me on my stance on the issue and even offering me their extra grad ticket to give to my grandma."